Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has penned an op-ed remembering longtime former Fox CEO Roger Ailes, who died Thursday morning at the age of 77.
“When stuff hit the fan, as it will when you are doing daily political commentary in a polarized nation, Roger had my back,” O’Reilly wrote in his op-ed published by USA Today.
From The Hill
“He defended me in public even while sometimes mocking me in private. He was genuine, charismatic, profane, generous and sincere in his beliefs. He could be brutal verbally but if you were straight with him, he would protect you,” the former prime-time star added.
Both O’Reilly and Ailes left the right-leaning news network in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Ailes resigned last summer, while O’Reilly was ousted last month.
O’Reilly defended Ailes on Thursday, saying his demise came from public backlash.
“When Roger departed Fox News last July under a cloud of suspicion, the vast majority of Fox employees were sad,” O’Reilly wrote.
“We were not privy to executive actions and while opinions were many, facts were few. Roger was convicted of bad behavior in the court of public opinion, and it was painful for many of us to watch. He, himself, was stunned and never really recovered.”
O’Reilly attributed Ailes’s death to the “hatred” he received in the wake of the scandals.
“Roger Ailes experienced that hatred and it killed him. That is the truth. But he would not want to be remembered that way. He did both good and bad in his life and in that, he has something in common with every human being,” O’Reilly continued.
He said that members of the media “demean him even on the day of his death.”
O’Reilly called Ailes “a man on a mission,” saying he aimed to spread conservative ideology across the nation.
“To say that Roger Ailes led a full life is a massive understatement. A force of nature with an agenda, RA, as fellow executives called him, was a man on a mission,” O’Reilly said.
He said Ailes equipped the three modern Republican presidents — Ronald Reagan, George H.W., George W. Bush — with “blunt advice that led them to success,” adding that such bluntness also led him to accrue many enemies.
Former President George H.W. Bush acknowledged Thursday that he might not “have been president” without Ailes.
“He was truly a force, an unforgettable person. It was a privilege to know him,” O’Reilly concluded.